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Dress in Black this Christmas

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The Wind That Shakes the Barley — British barbarism & Irish resistance

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Thanks to Irishviews.com for the barley image.

Is there any end to the toxic effects of British imperialism and capitalist exploitation?  One look at the Gulf of Mexico disaster provides the answer. Britain’s cruelty and barbarism toward its “subjects” is horrifying. The Irish have suffered from British oppression for centuries. The Irish have resisted with incredible courage and persistence — and with beautiful lyrics and songs about their struggle for dignity and freedom.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley” is one such ballad, by poet Robert Dwyer Joyce.. It’s a traditional Irish ballad in format but is based on true events that transpired during the 1798 Irish Rebellion against British rule. I won’t go into the entire narrative of the uprising but one event stands out: The 29th of May massacre by Britain — which should never be forgotten — or forgiven.The British Army captured, shot and killed 300-5oo Irish prisoners of war at Gibbet Rath, in the Curragh grasslands of County Kildare. Executed. Assassinated. So much for British “nobility”  This massacre exemplifies the vicious savagery that’s characterized British imperialism for centuries. By the way, these were rebels about to surrender…. — from Wikipedia

According to YouTube commenter  anthonyjanetireph:  “The references to barley in the song derive from the fact that the rebels often carried barley oats in their pockets as provisions for when on the march. This gave rise to the post-rebellion phenomenon of barley growing and marking the “croppy-holes,” mass unmarked graves which slain rebels were thrown into, symbolising the regenerative nature of Irish resistance to British rule.”  Three comments.

1) Irish rebels lived on subsistence farming and were near starvation. Imagine trying to survive as by chewing raw barley grains or functioning as a soldier with such meager nourishment. The British used starvation to control the Irish population.

2) The death of each Irish patriot ensured a continuance of the barley harvest (their agrarian way of life)  and ensured future generation of Irish resistance.

3) The shaking of the barley is a visual reminder of  the desire to “live free or die” — free from the ongoing British occupation of Ireland.

I am reminded of the resolution of Seven Samurais. The peasants of the town go back to work in the rice fields, singing. For now, the strife has ended. But at some point, invaders may return to terrorize, kill and steal. It may once more be necessary to summon the help of itinerant samurais to defend the town….

With those concepts in mind, here is a beautiful version of the ballad by Dead Can Dance vocalist Lisa Gerrard:

I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, “The mountain glen
I’ll seek at morning early
And join the bold United Men
While soft winds shake the barley”
While sad I kissed away her tears
My fond arms ’round her flinging
The foeman’s shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love’s side
In life’s young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley
I bore her to some mountain stream
And many’s the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
About her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse
Then rushed o’er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley
But blood for blood without remorse
I’ve taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love’s clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon may follow
As ’round her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e’er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley

Fast forward to 1921 and the continuing struggle for Irish Independence… Nothing has changed. Still horrific poverty, oppression and hunger in Ireland. But the Irish are ready fight to the death for their freedom. Ken Loach created an exceptional film on the subject. It won the Cannes 2006 Palm D’Or.

Lastly, here is an early esponse from a proud British subject on the issue of Irish poverty, hunger and overpopulation. If only the Irish had listened and the liberals hadn’t objected to his plan. All he sought to do was to limit the suffering of the broods of children produced by Irish welfare mommas who seek to embarrass Her Majesty the Queen. Here’s how to solve “The Irish Queston”:

A Modest  Proposal” by Jonathan Swift, 1729

For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents

or Country and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public

 


Music Video: Artie Shaw, Nightmare

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Smoky, film noire, haunting & tragic. New discovery. I’ve always been a huge fan of Benny Goodman, thought Artie Shaw was more commercial. But this…! Dark and moody, it hits you with sensuality, sorrow and anomie. In spite of his many upbeat hits, this was Artie Shaw’s favorite and his signature song.

Perhaps a good accompaniment to Never Come Morning, Nelson Algren’s tragic masterpiece of urban misery & loss.  Nightmare could be its soundtrack…

Recently discovered the polymath genius Artie Shaw: He was a musical prodigy who took up the clarinet at 16 and immediately left home to play in various bands. He went on to become a major musical figure as a jazz clarinetist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He formed several bands, hiring Billie Holiday as his vocalist and Buddy Rich as drummer, et al. He was an innovative musician who fused bebop, classical & world music into his big band repertoire. When he wasn’t touring, recording or composing, he studied advanced mathematics, and became an expert marksman and sportsman. He was an author who wrote fiction and autobiography. His commercial success didn’t mean much to him; he walked away from opportunities to capitalize on his fame. Okay, the good-looking super-genius Artie did have a problem: relationships. He was married eight times. Who cares? His musical genius brings delight, joy and happiness into the world.

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart

You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
A paradise where roses bloom
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain

Camille Paglia: Lady Gaga and the Death of Sex

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Lady Gaga and the death of sex | The Sunday Times. (excerpt)

Lady Gaga is the first major star of the digital age. Since her rise, she has remained almost continually on tour. Hence, she is a moving target who has escaped serious scrutiny. She is often pictured tottering down the street in some outlandish get-up and fright wig. Most of what she has said about herself has not been independently corroborated… “Music is a lie”, “Art is a lie”, “Gaga is a lie”, and “I profusely lie” have been among Gaga’s pronouncements, but her fans swallow her line whole…

She constantly touts her symbiotic bond with her fans, the “little monsters”, who she inspires to “love themselves” as if they are damaged goods in need of her therapeutic repair. “You’re a superstar, no matter who you are!” She earnestly tells them from the stage, while their cash ends up in her pockets. She told a magazine with messianic fervour: “I love my fans more than any artist who has ever lived.” She claims to have changed the lives of the disabled, thrilled by her jewelled parody crutches in the Paparazzi video.

Although she presents herself as the clarion voice of all the freaks and misfits of life, there is little evidence that she ever was one. Her upbringing was comfortable and eventually affluent, and she attended the same upscale Manhattan private school as Paris and Nicky Hilton. There is a monumental disconnect between Gaga’s melodramatic self-portrayal as a lonely, rebellious, marginalised artist and the powerful corporate apparatus that bankrolled her makeover and has steamrollered her songs into heavy rotation on radio stations everywhere.

For two years, I have spent an irritating amount of time trying to avoid Gaga’s catchy but depthless hits Lady Gaga is a manufactured personality, and a recent one at that. Photos of Stefani Germanotta just a few years ago show a bubbly brunette with a glowing complexion. The Gaga of world fame, however, with her heavy wigs and giant sunglasses (rudely worn during interviews) looks either simperingly doll-like or ghoulish, without a trace of spontaneity. Every public appearance, even absurdly at airports where most celebrities want to pass incognito, has been lavishly scripted in advance with a flamboyant outfit and bizarre hairdo assembled by an invisible company of elves.

Furthermore, despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all – she’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution? In Gaga’s manic miming of persona after persona, over-conceptualised and claustrophobic, we may have reached the limit of an era…

Gaga has borrowed so heavily from Madonna (as in her latest video-Alejandro) that it must be asked, at what point does homage become theft? However, the main point is that the young Madonna was on fire. She was indeed the imperious Marlene Dietrich’s true heir. For Gaga, sex is mainly decor and surface; she’s like a laminated piece of ersatz rococo furniture. Alarmingly, Generation Gaga can’t tell the difference. Is it the death of sex? Perhaps the symbolic status that sex had for a century has gone kaput; that blazing trajectory is over…

Gaga seems comet-like, a stimulating burst of novelty, even though she is a ruthless recycler of other people’s work. She is the diva of déjà vu. Gaga has glibly appropriated from performers like Cher, Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Gwen Stefani and Pink, as well as from fashion muses like Isabella Blow and Daphne Guinness. Drag queens, whom Gaga professes to admire, are usually far sexier in many of her over-the-top outfits than she is.

Peeping dourly through all that tat is Gaga’s limited range of facial expressions. Her videos repeatedly thrust that blank, lugubrious face at the camera and us; it’s creepy and coercive. Marlene and Madonna gave the impression, true or false, of being pansexual. Gaga, for all her writhing and posturing, is asexual. Going off to the gym in broad daylight, as Gaga recently did, dressed in a black bustier, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels isn’t sexy – it’s sexually dysfunctional.

Compare Gaga’s insipid songs, with their nursery-rhyme nonsense syllables, to the title and hypnotic refrain of the first Madonna song and video to bring her attention on MTV, Burning Up, with its elemental fire imagery and its then-shocking offer of fellatio. In place of Madonna’s valiant life force, what we find in Gaga is a disturbing trend towards mutilation and death…

Gaga is in way over her head with her avant-garde pretensions… She wants to have it both ways – to be hip and avant-garde and yet popular and universal, a practitioner of gung-ho “show biz”. Most of her worshippers seem to have had little or no contact with such powerful performers as Tina Turner or Janis Joplin, with their huge personalities and deep wells of passion.

Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied: they communicate mutely via a constant stream of atomised, telegraphic text messages. Gaga’s flat affect doesn’t bother them because they’re not attuned to facial expressions.

Gaga’s fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty. Borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter. Hence, Gaga gratuitously natters on about her vagina…

Reprinted at The Vigilant Citizen (related articles are excellent)

More of the article is available but requires a subscription to The Sunday Times…

Maria Callas: “Madama Butterfly”

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The exquisite artistry of a modern genius…

Eight more Maria Callas Madame Butterfly videos

Written by chinarose

September 1, 2010 at 10:49 am

“Both Sides the Tweed”

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What’s the spring-breathing jasmine and rose ?
What’s the summer with all its gay train
Or the splendour of autumn to those
Who’ve bartered their freedom for gain?

Let the love of our land’s sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.

No sweetness the senses can cheer
Which corruption and bribery bind
No brightness that gloom can e’er clear
For honour’s the sum of the mind

Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Think them poorest who can be a slave
Them richest who dare to be free

Trad & Dick Gaughan / Music : Dick Gaughan

http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/songs/texts/tweed.html


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Submedia’s PreLube to the Olympic Resistance

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